Reply To: Chat Thread

Alana McGee

Hi Bev

Not necessarily. You can have a variety of alerts or behavior chains that are situational. After confidence in an alert is established you can fine tune it based on situation. Confidence & clarity in an alert is the most important thing, once you have a little more experience you can certainly teach situational alerts. For example, over the course of the past 2 years I have taught Lolo & Duff that more passive alerts are appropriate on orchards- whereas in the wild, having them help me dig can be incredibly helpful and I encourage it. On Orchards I do not and when we were training for this specifically I would if neccessary truncate the behavior (with praise & reward) and taught situational awareness in alert behaviors. Even different forested environments can have different alerts.

There are situations on orchards when digging is encouraged- but we’ve put it is on cue.

When Karen and I are talking about alerts on orchards as location services we are also referring to orchards in production which is a bit different than what we’d consider the majority of North American orchards at present.

In Australia for example they have 100,000 tree orchards that heavily produce. It would not be time efficient for the dog handler to harvest, so the dog harvest team is followed by a person who actually excavates the truffle and then takes it back to the grading shed. The dogs & humans have a limited amount of working time per outing. So it is a true location service.

It is true however that most orchard owners won’t want to have a dog tearing up their tree roots.

Digging in of itself is not problematic as an alert until there is a stage of commercial production. Being able to fine tune and or arrest a behavior with positive reinforcement when you get there is helpful. But again, confidence in criteria of searching (aka clarity in the alert and at odor source) is the foundation on which you can build these more subtle behaviors. That is why we like to encourage nose touching when possible. AKA we wouldn’t be too concerned with the digging in Wolfy’s case. Some dogs, it is something you want to set perimeters on (one of my own dogs was this way- Duff- but you have to understand rototilling is his natural alert, so we spent time after he was confident in searching working on those fine motor skills and more gentle behavior.) Confidence & Clarity are paramount at this stage.

  • This reply was modified 6 years, 2 months ago by Alana McGee. Reason: additional material